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Libyan navy rescues 335 immigrants off western coast

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At least 337 migrants have died or disappeared off the coast of Libya since the start of the year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

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12th-Mar-2018       
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Xinhua, Tripoli :
 The Libyan navy on Saturday night rescued 335 illegal immigrants off the country's western coast, a navy spokesman said.
The coast guard picked up the immigrants including at least seven children during three rescue operations dozens of kilometers west of the country's capital Tripoli, navy spokesman Ayob Qassem told Xinhua.
All of them were provided medical treatment and were well cared for, Qassem said, without mentioning if there were any casualties.
Libya has become the preferred departure point for illegal immigrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, because of insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Improved weather conditions have increased the flow of migrant boats from Libya towards Europe, particularly off the country's western coast.
The Libyan navy on Saturday rescued 252 migrants seeking to reach Europe, in two separate operations off the country's western coast.
"We were alerted… to the position of a migrant boat" around 30 kilometres (20 miles) off Zawiya, west of Tripoli, navy captain Rami al-Hadi Ghomed said.
He said the 140 migrants on board, including 14 women and four children, were brought back to Tripoli's naval base before being transferred to a detention center.
Since the 2011 fall and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, unruly Libya has become a key launch pad for migrants making desperate bids to reach Europe, often on unseaworthy vessels.
The second rescue operation took place around 50 kilometers off Garabulli, east of the capital.
The navy rescued "112 migrants, including 30 women and three children, aboard an inflatable boat", said navy spokesman Ayoub Kacem.
Recent years have seen thousands of migrants infiltrate the vast southern border of Libya in attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
The situation has deteriorated since Kadhafi's fall, as lawlessness and insecurity have pushed ever more migrants who were already present in Libya to attempt the perilous crossing.
Since the 2011 fall and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, unruly Libya has become a key launch pad for migrants making desperate bids to reach Europe, often on unseaworthy vessels.
To save money to pay smugglers for the crossing, some migrants stay and work in Libya-such as Sunday Adeleghe, a 42-year-old Nigerian father of four.

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